US Oil Exports to Quadruple Within 3 Years, Outpacing Most OPEC Producers

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By the end of this year, U.S. crude oil exports could reach 1 million barrels a day. By 2020, U.S. crude exports could reach 2.25 million barrels a day, four times the 2016 daily average of 520,000 barrels a day.

According to JODI data, in April of this year, Kuwait exported 2.16 million barrels of oil a day, Iran exported 2.1 million barrels a day and Nigeria exported 1.7 million barrels a day. Saudi Arabia exported just over 7 million barrels a day and the Russian Federation did not report April data. In March, Russia exported 5.13 million barrels a day and Iraq exported 3.8 million barrels a day.

Since 2010, total exports of U.S. crude and refined petroleum products have more than doubled, from 2.4 million barrels a day to 5.2 million barrels by the end of 2016.

The estimate of U.S. crude exports comes from PIRA Energy and was reported Monday by the Financial Times. PIRA’s head of global oil, Gary Ross, said:

The US will become one of the top 10 exporters in the world. They’re not a member of Opec, and they’re not about to control production in an effort to keep prices up. This is very bad news for Opec.

U.S. refiners still import around 8 million barrels a day, and even if exports should rise as far and as quickly as Ross expects, that number probably won’t come down much. U.S. producers export primarily light, sweet crude while U.S. refiners, particularly those situated along the Gulf Coast, are set up to run heavier sour crudes.

The Financial Times noted that, according to PIRA’s forecast, the 22 existing oil terminals in Texas and Louisiana have a total capacity to export 2.7 million barrels a day, and an additional 600,000 barrels of export capacity is expected to be added by the end of next year.

The U.S. exported 1.1 million barrels of crude per day in February of this year, the highest level ever recorded. President Obama lifted a 40-year ban on U.S. oil exports in December 2015.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil for August delivery traded down about 1% at $43.95 early Tuesday morning.